Black Cats' last manager walked away claiming the squad wasn't good enough but his successor has been in worse situations and avoided relegation

Ian Horrocks
Good sign: Allardyce has already watched Sunderland's Under-21 side in action this week

Sam Allardyce labelled himself “the troubleshooter” as he met the media.

The mission? To “save” winless, second-bottom Sunderland from relegation and what he warned would be “financial devastation.”


The 60-year-old boss is up for the fight, convinced his methods will overcome adversity.

It was pointed out his predecessor Dick Advocaat walked out saying the “squad wasn’t good enough”, but the new boss just sees a challenge.

“Dick is a very experienced man and has worked with the players," said Allardyce. "That’s his opinion. I have got to be the man who comes in and at some point down the line is able to say, ‘Dick, you were wrong’.

“ I hope I am not saying, ‘Dick, you were right’ that’s for sure. If that happens I have made a bad decision, haven’t I?”

Allardyce sees a leaky defence that needs shoring up. He sees a malaise that he called “mental fragility” among the players. And, longer term, he sees a “recruitment process – the hardest job in football” that has “not gone well” and dumped Sunderland in grave trouble of relegation.

But with his decades of managerial nous, Allardyce believes that trouble can be shot.

He talked simply, and with focus, about at the job in hand.

“I’ve got to get the club out of trouble and then rebuild it. The only priority I’ve got to focus on is saving it," said Allardyce.

“Not the Academy, or what happens in two years' time, it’s got to be now. It’s got to happen as quickly as possible. It’s got to protect its Premier League status, because if it wants to move forward it can’t have the financial devastation relegation will bring.

“It needs the new pot of money the new television deal brings in the summer.”

In pictures — Allardyce unveiled as Sunderland manager:


VIEW GALLERYSam Allardyce gives his first interview as Sunderland manager


How do you do that?

“For starters, don’t concede 18 goals in 8 games,” he said, pointing to the defensive statistics of the season so far. “If we can do that, it will rebuild the confidence of the team and the players’confidence is my biggest worry.”

Then, he mentioned “mental fragility” among the squad:

“We need the psychological profile of the player and where he lies at the minute. The mental fragility has to be relieved, or taken away, by me. By me using my experience, or the staff using their experience to put those fears aside.

“[We have to] Remind the player how good he is, why he is here, why we brought him in with the talent he has got and why he has lost his way. Why the loss of confidence? I like to be proactive on that not reactive.”


GettySunderland players prepare to kick off as they go 0-4 down

Heads gone: Allardyce knows he must build the Sunderland players up mentally


After taking over a worse situation with Blackburn in December 2008, he clawed the club to safety.

Allardyce explained: “I experienced a very difficult period at Blackburn when I went in after 17 games in December. We only had 13 points at that stage and we didn’t get safe until one game to go, even though we had a very good run.

“This opportunity gives me a little longer to achieve what is the main goal.”

But haven’t we heard all this before? Allardyce is Sunderland’s sixth boss in a mere four years.

But he believes that being all powerful, and not just a “head coach” will make a difference. There will be short term fire-fighting – and then when/if safe, attention paid to recruitment and rebuilding.

Allardyce added: “They’ve had some very good managers with great experience from Brucie, to Martin (O’Neill), to Gus (Poyet) to Paolo (Di Canio).



Italian job (briefly): Di Canio is one of six Sunderland managers in the past four years



“My style is different to theirs and if I can impose my style and my way on the club and that gets us into a better place, then it proves I’ve made the right decision coming here.

“At West Ham I was the second longest serving manager in the league. It’s a risk business, I don’t know how long I’ll be here just yet. I’ve got an 18-month contract.

“I started with a two-year contract at West Ham and it was extended. That may well be the case here, but it will only happen if I’m successful here and we win football matches.

“We’re second from bottom in the league and for this club, that isn’t good enough.

“I’m here to save them. I’m the troubleshooter.”

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